Re: [tied] PIE mustelids and seals

From: Marc Verhaegen
Message: 4499
Date: 2000-10-25

I thought that the word "birch" was related to "bright", ie, the light-coloured tree. Is this so? Then it is unambiguous, isn't it?    --Marc

This etymology seems obvious, though *berhtaz is only found in Germanic, i.e. is far less well-attested than the birch name supposedly derived from it. Indic has a related bhra:j- < *bHraxg- 'shine, flash', hence bhra:ja- 'glittering'. There's something funny about this root -- too many consonants, as if it were an obscured and lexicalised compound. The alternation *bHerxg- ~ *bHraxg- is probably due to PIE r-metathesis (as in *ters- ~ *tres- 'shake') rather than root-suffix ablaut; *bHerxg- would not have done as the phonetic realisation of a verb stem, and metathesis would have fixed its structural flaws. Who knows if the verb and the adjective are not derived from the tree name! ("birch-white", "glitter like birch-bark").        Piotr
Yes, but then the tree was still unambiguously the berch -- at least in Germanic & Indic?